Is it time to rethink how we give gifts?

words Alexa Wang

Did you know that as a country it is estimated we spent £27 billion on gifts last Christmas? Many of us already spend beyond our means during the festive period and on average, £42 million of those gifts are unwanted.

Trying to find (and afford) the right gift can be stressful and it’s even worse if you end up giving someone something they might not actually want.

Then there’s the wrapping paper that we cover the gifts in. A whopping 30% more rubbish is produced over the festive period and this includes 227,000 miles of wrapping paper – which is around four rolls per household.

Sure, ripping the paper off to discover what is underneath is all part of the fun – but much of this can’t be recycled. Is it worth it, especially when the gift that we are momentarily excited to reveal, often ends up pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten about? 
So, perhaps it’s time we rethink how we give gifts? Here’s a few ways we could do that:

give gifts

Buy less but make it more meaningful

It’s so easy to get carried away buying presents, but how many of those will the recipient really want? How about buying fewer gifts but putting more thought into each one? This could be done by setting a budget – this is great to do with your partner or best friend. The price is entirely up to you and you could then get one big gift or lots of little ones.

You could also do a Secret Santa, this works better in friendship groups or with the whole family. Pick a name and you only have to purchase a present for one person and not everyone.

Have you heard of the four gift rule? This is also great to do within your family. It means each person gets four gifts that fall under these categories: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.

give gifts

Give the gift of memories

One way to make a gift more meaningful is for it to allow the recipient to spend quality time with you or someone else and create a memory that will last far longer than any other gift ever could. It might be an experience for the whole family – and something you can all look forward to in January. In fact, it could be a new tradition that you choose a new experience to do together, instead of buying each other gifts at all.

Be more open about what we want and need

We never tell each other what we want anymore because we don’t want to actually ask for anything – perhaps for fear that it will be too expensive. Remember those days when we used to circle half the Argos catalogue and then a few of those things would end up under the tree? Well, take inspiration from that – especially with those closest to you. We could make a list – that ranges in price – then it’s up to those buying you a gift to decide which ones they get you. It could be one expensive and a few cheaper items, for example. But, whatever it is, you can be sure that it is something you either want or need and still have a small surprise as you won’t know what has been chosen until Christmas morning.

Ensure they are eco-friendly gifts

We are more conscious of our impact on the environment than ever before – which needs to be considered during December too. Start by shopping at smaller independent stores, not only will the gift be more unique (and therefore more likely to wow the recipient), these stores also tend to use eco-friendly packaging.

Of course, there’s the gift itself – you may want to consider items that help the recipient to live a more sustainable life – such as a reusable shopping bag which will make a great stocking filler. Where possible, especially when buying for children, you might also consider swapping a new plastic toy for wooden toys bought from a charity shop. 

Ditch the wrapping paper

As well as rethinking what gifts we give, we also need to rethink how we give them. Most wrapping paper is bad for the environment so – with the above point in mind – ditch it. This doesn’t mean you can’t wrap presents, just consider using something that is recyclable like brown paper and natural twine, finished off with a sprig of pine tree. If you’re giving an experience, then you can think of fun ways to let the recipient know what you are going to be doing.

So, are you going to rethink how you give gifts this Christmas?


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